Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

TV Shows That Turned Out Nothing Like Their Pitches

When a show is pitched to a network, it's basically an unfertilized egg, waiting to be brought to life through the interference of TV executives before it can make it to the small screen. By the time that zygote starts taking on a personality, it's usually a far cry from its original script. Characters change, settings are moved, and plots are tweaked. Here are a few series that turned out very differently from the shows their creators originally intended.

Bob's Burgers

It's a pretty standard adult cartoon about a guy who manages a suffering restaurant and a difficult family, but the original concept for Bob's Burgers wasn't quite so ordinary. According to an interview with The AV Club, show creator Loren Bouchard was just coming off working with Adult Swim. In order to get noticed, pitches to the after-hours cartoon network usually had to be a bit insane...so the most natural thing at the time was to pitch a show about cannibal restaurateurs, conveniently located right next to a mortuary. Fox asked that the dark concept be retooled, but the idea of eating human flesh still made it into the pilot episode.

Oh, and butt-crazy Tina? She was originally a boy named Daniel, but the character still ended up being voiced by Dan Mintz. We like it better this way.

The Golden Girls

The feat could never be repeated in today's youth-dominated media culture, but there was once a sitcom about a bunch of old ladies. And it was actually ridiculously popular. The pitch concept for The Golden Girls always involved a bunch of dusty old grannies, but it was originally going to be called Miami Nice. The ladies were also going to be accompanied by a live-in, gay cook named Coco. Rue McClanahan and Betty White were supposed to play one another's roles, but both switched to avoid being typecast, as White had previously played a vixen, and McClanahan had recently played a ditz. Eleven Emmys and a thousand late-night cheesecakes later, those last-minute changes seem to have worked out.

Star Trek

The elevator pitch for Star Trek was incredibly broad: "A one-hour dramatic television series. Action-Adventure-Science Fiction. The first such concept with strong central lead characters plus other continuing regulars."

If the show had followed the first draft of the pitch script, Trek fans would now be displaying models of The SS Yorktown instead of the Enterprise, and perhaps we'd be making fun of Captain April instead of Captain Kirk. The role which became Spock, simply named "Number One" at the time, was originally going to be played by Majel Barrett, show creator Gene Roddenberry's lady-on-the-side and eventual wife. Spock looked like a red-skinned demon, and Dr. "Bones" McCoy was almost Dr. "Bones" Boyce. Those are just a few of the many changes that were made before the first Trek pilot filmed—the show added yet another alteration for the second pilot, which found William Shatner's charmingly halting Captain Kirk finally at the helm.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

It's hard to imagine that the surreal collage that is Mighty Morphin Power Rangers ever had a concept other than "steal a Japanese TV show and cut in scenes with American kids," but there was actually some serious conceptual work behind the scenes to make the show more appealing to U.S. audiences. In the original pitch and pilot, Zordon was instead called Zoltar, and annoying robot Alpha had a completely different model. Inept bullies Bulk and Skull were hardly lovable, but were far more menacing, making weird sexual advances toward Kimberly instead of just tripping on themselves. The teenagers with attitude dispel thugs and enemies with full-contact violence and droids, instead of weird, disconnected flailing and Zords. It's not too surprising that Fox asked for a less intense pilot with a little less face-kicking.

The Big Bang Theory

The asexual, quasi-robotic humanoid known as Sheldon is an integral aspect of The Big Bang Theory, but the show's original pilot script, and unaired pilot, actually features a Sheldon relatively unafraid of his own emotions or groin. The pitch also omits Howard, Raj, and unbelievably, Penny, replacing them with Gilda and Katie. Gilda is a straight-up nerd who wants to get down with both Leonard and Sheldon...and actually has, with Sheldon anyway. Instead of sweet and naïve Penny, Katie is a tough broad with a soft center who actually moves in with the geeks. Eventually, producers dropped the idea that nerds actually can get some, and went with the tired trope that the terminally intellectual rarely know the touch of a woman. Thanks, guys.


Combine the magic of the Jim Henson Company with the inherent weirdness of Australian sci-fi and you get Farscape. Four seasons and a movie's worth of over-the-top, cult favorite science fiction later, and we've never seen what might have been. While a few prominent cast members have always been elaborate puppets, we almost had one more: the villainous Scorpius. It may have been a bit too hard to see the leather-clad bad guy as truly malevolent knowing that he was cousins with Kermit the Frog, though. Blue-skinned Chiana was also scheduled to die in the pilot episode, but actress Gigi Edgley was so popular that producers kept her around. Other-blue-skinned-alien Zhaan, who actually did bite the big one eventually, was going to be a dude named Zen. And the whole thing was almost called Space Chase, which just beats out Cleopatra 2525 as the worst sci-fi show name of all time.


Originally called Aloha, Mars!, and then Doomsville, Futurama was originally going to focus on a more typically dystopian world than the one ultimately seen by viewers of the long-running Matt Groening animated show. Deliveryboy Philip J. Fry wasn't always going to be a joyous young doofus, either. In the original pitch, Fry was employed by Mom, arch-nemesis to Planet Express, and was much older and more dour. Early character concepts reveal a very different Bender, and a super-sexy Leela (then called Leila). And to think that the whole thing only exists because creator Matt Groening couldn't get a live-action Krusty the Clown talk show off the ground.